Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Ol Pejeta Conservancy 0°0' equator 36°56' E 5938 ft

A 90,000 acres wild life conservancy in central Kenya gave us a taste of what we were going to experience for the next few days in Kenya! Do you want to dine with a large group of impalas and common zebras? How about bush bucks grazing by your tent. And to top it, the likely big 5 sightings and the only place in kenya where one can see chimpanzees in a Sanctuary. Ol Pejeta and Sweet waters was all this and more.

As with some holidays, this one started with a few glitches. Let's start with a 4 hour delayed departure. And follow it up with an argument with the Kenyan Airlines air hostess about chicken not being "vegetarian". Lo behold our highly recommended guide replaced with a cranky old man. And finally the Rickety Mini van and the traffic's  total  disregard of the google travel time managed to turn all our plans topsy-turvy. But What is a holiday without a little bit of drama?

The first act of the drama had Mr Nanyuki showing us that the water drains out in clockwise direction in Northern hemisphere and in the opposite direction when one steps over the equator. Wait, Is it the other way round?? And what happens when one is on the equator? Well ,What happens on the equator stays on the equator! For the answers , please visit Nanyuki, Altitude 6389ft

Sweet waters located within Ol Pejeta private conservancy is an animal enthusiast's paradise. The luxurious tents and the ester while British colonial house turned restaurant/waterhole for the two legged kinds cluster around a water hole for the four legged kinds. The grounds of the resort and the water hole are separated by a trench and low lying electrical fence within the trench. This leads to uninterrupted views of the grounds

We arrived at sweet waters in time for a late lunch and a welcome committee of more than  a hundred Impalas,We ignored our hungry pangs and took in the hornless female and young male herds grazing along the oasis. The territorial males were missing in action. A lazy afternoon, the impalas were later joined by common zebras, black headed Ibis and warthogs. A dramatic lunch well spent along with the resident Marabou stork or the undertaker bird,the incredibly colorful superb starlings and  wild bush bucks roaming around the restaurant. The first taste of lounge chair gaming gave us an incredible high. We were all set for our first game drive with a stopover at the sweet waters chimpanzee sanctuary after an exciting lunch.

Superb Starling

Mommy Chimp

Expressions of a chimp

About 38 Orphaned or  abused chimpanzees from west and central Africa call Sweet waters their home. These cheeky faced apes are entertaining souls. The protected environment with the barricades can make one  forget that our closest relatives can be aggressive sometimes. But the most important thing  is to avoid provoking animals by loud noises, sudden movements, flashy colors and we should be fine.
An admirer of Jane Godall growing up, I had to become one of the many foster parents to the two foster moms of the conservancy. This made the visit more personal and connected to the conservancy. I wish Indian zoos follow the same and make the visit more memorable.

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy, an ester while cattle ranch, is located between the foothills of Aberdares and Mount Kenya. It is the home to the last three southern and northern white Rhinoceros. I wonder how many people can comprehend this number "Three". I cannot think of a better place for these endangered Rhinos. 
There are 5 prominent habitats here - Grasslands, open bush lands, dense bush lands, riverine and swamp/marsh land. Nothing prepares one to the 360 degree view of open land. All one can do is to get into a trance like state and take in vastness and unobstructed views to the horizon. It is a feeling like none other, something which I had not experienced till my first game drive in Ol Pejeta The Trance like peaceful state was broken only by a steady sightings of the residents. Listed below are some of them:

African Lion and lioness
Cape Buffalo
Black Rhinoceros- Critically endangered
African elephants
Common Zebra 
Grevy's Zebra/Imperial Zebra- Threatened
Reticulated or somali Giraffe
Water Bucks
Bush bucks
Thomson's gazelle
Grants Gazelle
Common Eland
Blacked  headed Ibis
Hadada Ibis
Common Bulbul
Superb Starling
Secretary Bird
Yellow necked Francolin/Spurfowl
Greater Blue eared Starling
Ox peckers
white browed sparrow weaver
Yellow billed stork
Crowned plover
Helmeted Guinea Fowl
Egyptian goose

Young Adult African Lion

The Grasslands

The open bush lands

The Black Rhinoceros

The common Zebra


Gervy's Zebra


Reticulated Giraffe

Sweet waters serene tented safari camp is an exclusive and luxurious property. Each of the luxurious tents has a veranda facing the waterhole from where one can do lounge chair safari. The buffet a combination of regional and international cuisine including Indian was always an exhaustive one. Though a vegetarian might not always find a flavorful option. One of the very few locations which offers night game drive, sweetwaters is an complete package but at a price. The pièce de résistance " "night safari" turned out to be a damp squib for us with very few  sightings and no  action. But as they say game drives are always a matter of luck and we will continue hoping luck and drama strikes us at the next game drive

August 2016
Ol Pejeta Conservancy Kenya
The Travel Connection: African Night Safari
Tip: The google travel time of 3-4 hours turned out to be 5.5 hours. So plan accordingly.

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